Carol Lynne Giery (pictured) lives for her clients’ stories – a not-so-secret fact about the 34-year mortgage veteran. For Giery, listening to her customers’ experiences is the best way to not only build a trusting relationship but also find ways to solve their problem and help them reach their housing goals.
“I’ve been in the mortgage industry since I was a teenager. I’ve taken lots of promotions and worked across many levels in management and every division of this industry. I can teach you pretty much everything I know, but the one thing I can’t teach you is how to care about your clients. It’s not something that can be taught. You either care, or you don’t care,” she said. “In our line of work, your client will know if you care within the first 60 seconds of your call. It’s about respecting who they are and what they’ve achieved in their lives to bring them to the point that they are seeking knowledge from you. Always give clients your undivided attention. Listen, really listen, to what they’re saying to you and what they’re not saying.”
Stories, Giery said, are what connects her and her clients: finding out what brought them to this stage in their lives, what goals they’ve already achieved, and also what they’re looking to achieve now and in the future. When she’s in her client’s shoes Giery is better able to structure loans that match their goals.
Several years ago, Giery was working with a woman in her 80s who had no children or family and had spent the past 40 years with the love of her life. She said they’d been together so many years, but they had never thought about getting married. Tragically, he had passed away four years earlier, and because they never officially married, Giery’s client didn’t get anything from his social security or pension. She had a lovely little house but no means to stay in it for the long-term and no plan to access the equity available to her there.
The woman was hesitant about getting a reverse mortgage and had read a lot of misinformation about it on the internet. But she chose to work with Giery because she took the time to get to know her client.
“I found that she was barely making ends meet, even going without meals most nights,” she shared. “Once I was able to reassure her how this program works and that I’d be working with her personally and would support her through the entire process, she felt relieved. I searched her county for senior services contacts, free promotions, discounts on utilities, and various resources that she could connect with, including the volunteer program that assisted seniors in her community with yard work and groceries. Once she closed, she sent me a lovely letter thanking me for enabling her to ‘live [her] life having a quality of life.’ She was and is one of my dearest and most memorable clients.”
While lending an ear to her customers has been a crucial part of Giery’s success, the originator said it is also just as important to be attentive to and respect your co-workers, especially loan processors. “The job of a loan processor is one of the hardest jobs in the industry. They are the ultimate jugglers working your files day-in and day-out. If they ask for your help, make it a priority,” she said.
Giery, who currently serves as a branch manager at Finance of America Reverse (FAR) in Richmond, Va., said she learned how to do her job well from her late father, who always treated each of his clients like family.
“I always have a clear vision for how I approach new business - after all, this is an important financial decision they are making, and it’s my privilege to educate, share insights, and provide a clear, accurate, and understandable overview of these programs,” she said. “That way, they can make wise and well-informed financial decisions as to whether this mortgage option is a good fit for them. I believe in being a straight-shooter here. If this isn’t the right program for a client, or if there is a structuring issue preventing the loan from being approved, I tell them directly - explaining why and coming up with a solution and a plan that will help them to work towards the goal of being approved in the future.”